Former Iraqi president laid to rest in Kurdistan region

Former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani laid to rest in Kurdistan region
2 min read
07 October, 2017
Iraqi-Kurdish political titan Jalal Talabani has been buried in the PUK stronghold Sulaimaniya, although controversy ensued over the flag that decked his coffin.

Iraq - Talabani laid to rest

Former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani was laid to rest in the country's Kurdish region on Friday, although even in death the one-time Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader stoked anger from Baghdad.

An Iraqi Airways plane carrying his body touched down in Sulaimaniya on Friday from Germany where the Kurdish political titan died on Tuesday aged 83.

Greeted with a 21 gun salute, his coffin was carried through the city - a stronghold of his PUK party - where thousands lined the streets to pay their respects. 

Yet the choice to drape his coffin with the Kurdish flag rather than the Iraqi one sparked anger in Baghdad with some TV stations refusing to screen his funeral due to the red-white-green banner.

Al-Etejah TV cut off mid-broadcast due to "the coffin [not being] draped by the Iraqi flag", Reuters reported.

Talabani was a veteran fighter against President Saddam Hussein's regime and a shrewd political figure who unlike his Kurdish rival Masoud Barzani managed to stay on amicable terms with Baghdad in post-war Iraq.

The Iraqi national anthem was played at Talabani's funeral and Baghdad allowed the plane carrying his body to return home despite a blockade on the Iraqi-Kurdish territories.

This has been in place since an independence referendum was held in the region last month with Talabani's party showing only lukewarm support for the vote.

The blockade likely prevented more international statesmen attending the funeral, Kurdish media reported.